In Oregon, stalking can be charged as a criminal offense, but it can also be a civil action – a restraining order. In the civil setting, a stalking protective order may be in effect for an unlimited duration (i.e. the order may be in effect for a lifetime). Because of this, the threat of such an order should cause one to reflect upon how such an order might adversely affect not only the person’s freedom to travel and remain where he or she chooses, but also how such an order might be perceived by others examining public records. There is a considerable range of attitudes toward the threat of such an order going into effect. On one hand, there are individuals who are unconcerned by it, and have no intention of spending any time or resources to contest the matter. On the other hand, there are those who feel strongly and make every effort to prepare for such a hearing and increase the odds that such an order will not go into effect. In short, the decision concerning the level of resources an individual is willing to devote to such a matter is a very personal one.
In order for someone to obtain a stalking protective order, that person must prove by a “preponderance” of the evidence (i.e. more likely than not) that:
- “The person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly engages in repeated and unwanted contact with the other person or a member of that person’s immediate family or household thereby alarming or coercing the other person.”
- “It is objectively reasonable for a person in the victim’s situation to have been alarmed or coerced by the contact.”
- “The repeated and unwanted contact causes the victim unreasonable apprehension regarding the personal safety of the victim or a member of the victim’s immediate family or household.””Repeated,” as used above, simply means two or more times. Additionally, if a court finds the elements listed above, it has no choice but to grant an order.
Because the rules of evidence apply during stalking hearings, all testimony must be from live witnesses. With rare exception, letters and affidavits of witnesses are not admissible. Additionally, in Lane County, the local court rule limits such a hearing to one hour, if the hearing is held at the first court appearance. If a hearing is going to take longer than one hour, and most hearings that this law firm handles do, the matter is placed on the “trial docket” approximately 30 to 45 days from the initial hearing date.